In this book, a remarkable group of scientists, physicians, philosophers, and theologians share profound insights into our deepest questions, and the invisible forces and powerful beliefs that shape us. They will challenge you–and reward you with a richer understanding of who we are, what we share, and what it means.
We view our past through a reverse telescope, making it seem like contemporary events are a much larger part of our history than they are. Hominids have been estimated to have evolved about seven million years ago, with our species having evolved only within approximately the last 1% of that period. The human brain was sculpted by evolutionary forces over tens of thousands of years, whereas the human achievements we take for granted, such as civilizations, law, and art, have emerged only during the past few thousands of years. A mere 300 years ago, theology and philosophy were the principal disciplinary lenses through which the world was viewed and from which explanations and instruction were sought. Advances in science over the past 300 years have transformed how we think, act, and live. Nearly every aspect of human existence, ranging from agriculture, commerce, and transportation to technology, communication, and medicine, has been transformed by contemporary science. We have no hesitation to accept scientific explanations of physical entities being influenced by invisible forces such as gravity, magnetism, and genes. But when human cognition and behavior are the objects to be explained, deterministic scientific accounts seem less satisfying for many.